Nigeria: Election Stolen Fair and Square


April 27, 2007: The government used the oil revenue, which is over two-thirds of of government income, to buy the recent elections. At the lowest levels, local operatives were offered a few dollars for each "vote" they delivered. Methods were left to the local party members, who did everything from having pre-marked ballots printed, then seizing polling places by force, to paying off individual voters to cooperate. With over $50 billion in oil revenues to play with each year, politicians can easily justify spending a billion or so on rigging elections. The stolen oil money is spread around, with about ten percent of the population getting some of it, and doing what needs to be done to keep the thieving politicians in power. The majority of Nigerians get nothing, and the better armed politicians dare anyone to do anything about it. But the current government claimed to be reformers, and blamed all the former problems on corrupt military dictators. With it now obvious that, as the generals so often claimed, that civilian politicians are no better than the military dictators, what is to be done? The ruling party believes that, as long as they keep spreading the oil money around, the senior politicians can get rich and ignore the needs of population. The election was stolen fair and square, and the thieves are going to get away with it.

April 25, 2007: Violence in the Niger River Delta oil region continues to increase, with 18 major attacks on oil facilities so far this year. The oil companies and the government are laying on more security, but the local gangs are still powerful enough to launch large enough attacks to overwhelm the defenses of many oil company facilities. The gangs are looking for foreigners to kidnap, and the oil companies are now forced to pay higher and higher "danger bonuses" to attract needed technical personnel. Not all the violence is directed at the oil companies and government forces. Tribes will fight each other over jobs and other benefits handed out by the oil companies. One such conflict today left five dead and over a dozen wounded.

April 23, 2007: A brazenly fraudulent vote elected most of the candidates the ruling party put up. This included the new president, Umaru Yar'Adu, a Moslem from the north. Opposition parties are demanding a new vote, but are unlikely to get it unless they fight for it. And even then, the effort is likely to fail.

April 21, 2007: The election campaign left over 400 dead, and many more wounded. Gangs hired by candidates used violence to intimidate opposition voters and party workers. The local (April 14) and national (April 21) elections were to be the first peaceful transition from one elected civilian government to another in Nigerian history. The vote, however, was not "free and fair" with all the muscle being applied.

April 20, 2007: Two Turkish engineers, kidnapped in the Niger River Delta oil region, were released, apparently after a ransom was paid.




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